Finding both a suitable and fairly interesting subject and that was accessible and practical to be able able to visit at different times of the day and possibly on different days was tougher than I first thought. The subject I settled on was a location in Spain close to my apartment.
After some scouting around, I found my subject of a ruined Spanish windmill on the sea front with the imposing “Ifach” rock in the background which both will alter in appearance as the sun moves across the sky.
I then decided upon the exact spot on which to take all my shots from. I decided to use my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens which lighter for the camera and I used the view finder grid display in order to help recompose for the same view for each visit. As I was on holiday, it hadn’t been possible to bring a tripod with me; so I would had to hand hold the camera and relay on high ISO settings in the very low light conditions. Fortunately may camera has a remarkable ISO range in order to cope for such challenging circumstances. All shots taken with white balance set to sunlight.
Getting up at 5:30 I raced down to the sea front in order to reach my subject before the sun began to rise. This first shot was taken at 6:04 local time. The sun is just beginning to lighten the sky but the street lights are the dominant source in order to illuminate the windmill. ISO-8063, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.
6:16, ISO-8063, f/3.3, 1/60 sec. 12 minutes on the sky is quickly lightening with some pink colour from the dawn light the street lights are still the most dominant on the windmill; but the rock is now beginning to be illuminated by the sun and colour from it’s sandstone origin is becoming visible.
6:24, ISO-6400, f/5.6, 1/60 sec. The early dawn light is now overtaking the dominance for illuminating the windmill and the sky is now much lighter with more pink light visible and the rock is already much revealing more detail.
6:52, ISO-3200, f/5.6, 1/5000 sec. Very much lighter the street lights are now turned off the windmill is only illuminated by the dawn and I have been able to use a fast shutter speed on a slower ISO setting.
7:37, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1-1500 sec. The sun is beginning to get high enough to start shinning directly on the windmill and stone inside is reflecting light through the window. The rock too is reflecting light from the sun beginning to model it’s shape with much more detail emerging.
7:39, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1/1500 sec. The sun is now much higher and both the rock and the windmill is getting light to model both their shapes.
7:47, ISO-800, f/6.7, 1/2000 sec. This image provides to good modelling of the windmill; so clearly illustrating its curved shape. The rock however is just beginning to loosing the high lights that emphasises it’s own shape.
7:58, ISO-125, f/5.6, 1/125 sec. The sun is now much higher ant the modelling effect is still very effective on the windmill; but the rock is loosing it’s punch as a result of both haze and less effective directional light to model it’s shape. The sun is much brighter and my ISO is much lower whilst still obtaining a fast shutter for hand held operation.
10:12, ISO-125, f/9.5, 1/350 sec. The sun has now moved to a position in the sky where there is no modelling light on the rock and hardly any on the windmill.
13:13, ISO-125, f/13, 1/180. The sun is now more or less overhead, I have reduced the shutter speed for greater depth of field the haze has burned off and I can get better detail of the rock thanks to the highlights that have added texture to it. However, the windmill in the foreground looks fairly two-dimensional.
17:16, ISO-125, f/13, 1/350. Which a lower sun both the rock and windmill have a more modelled and textured appearance. Thanks also to the greater depth of field to the image. The clouds have been burned away by the hot sun leaving a clear blue sky background.
18:35, ISO-125, f/4.8, 1/750. At this angle the light from the sun becomes more golden in colour, texture in the stone of the windmill however the light does not provide much benefits regarding modelling the curve of the tower and the rock also looks less interesting despite it’s brightness and colour.
18:58, ISO-125, f/6.7, 1/1500 sec. In this image we have a nice dark edge to the windmill a graduation of the shadow as it reached the tallest part of the tower and light lit stone beyond, this I would describe as broad lighting. The rock is also nicely lit providing some nice contrasts to create texture and modelling. The image still maintains a golden appearance.
20:26, ISO-125, f/8, 1/500 sec. This must be the golden-hour, the rock and windmill both have a warm yellow hue and both are nicely lit for modelling and texture.
21:12, ISO-400, f/8, 1/60. The sun is disappearing over the horizon and as the light disappears the windmill and rock looks flatter and duller.
21:19, ISO-250, f/8, 1/60 sec. The light is quickly disappearing and I am raising my ISO again to compensate. The windmill are both looking flatter and the colours are more blue grey dominated. The sky a deeper blue looks richer as it is quickly turning to black.
Clearly, there is a short period early in the morning and during and just after sunset when for the best opportunities to get really good images. Preparation, patients and good timing are essential ingredients. I also think that perhaps the use of a graduated neutral grey filter could also have been employed to even better results to bring out more dramatic colours from the sky.